By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte said the Philippines withdrawing its membership from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is now out of the question despite earlier raising the possibility that the country might leave the ICC.
Duterte made the statement days after the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) announced that it will launch a preliminary examination on the killings brought by the administration’s war against illegal drugs.
According to Duterte, it is now impossible for the Philippines to do such move because it would appear that he is trying to avoid liability.
“Well, I do not want to appear na (that) I’m trying to avoid liability. Eh kung ganun ang style nila (If that is their style, then),” Duterte told reporters in Davao City.
In 2016, Duterte announced that he is thinking of withdrawing the Philippine membership from the ICC, claiming that the legal body only pick on small countries. He made the announcement a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree removing his country from the ICC.
The OTP is launching a preliminary examination on the allegations against the President brought by lawyer Jude Sabio before the ICC with self-confessed hit man Edgar Matobato as witness for the killings in Davao City allegedly carried out by the infamous Davao Death Squad on orders of Duterte.
But despite this, Duterte remains unfazed, and instead, welcomes the preliminary examination as an opportunity for him to finally defend himself from the accusations hurled against him.
He, however, said he wants a chance to cross examine ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
“Even if she [Bensouda] has filed a case, I will ask her to take the witness stand. I will go there to hear my case. Ilagay ko siya diyan (I will place her there),” Duterte said.
Duterte also again expressed that he is being singled out as he claims that there are many other pressing matters happening around the world.
“Karami ngayong mass rape. Bakit ako? Ang namamatay dito kriminal. Ang mabuti sana kung walang namatay sa pulis ko pati sundalo ko (There are mass rapes happening anywhere. Why me? Criminals are the ones dying here. It’s not as if my police and soldiers are not dying as well),” he said.
Duterte earlier revealed that he knew beforehand that there was going to be an examination that was going to be launched against him.
“I have this transmittal. I was already listening to the tapes of their conversation. It was provided by me by another country but the conversation was in Philippines and New York. And there was this, ‘See you in the headquarters when the case is filed,'” he said in a business forum in Davao City.
“I knew in advance that they were [doing] it. Problem is this case, from the looks of it, it’s all politics,” he added.
But in case that the ICC review on him flourishes, the Chief Executive said he wants to be killed for doing something right for his country like Philippine national hero Jose Rizal, instead of being locked away.
“If you convict me, find a country that promotes death penalty and kill me by a firing squad. I would be very happy to face them,” Duterte said.
Malacañang earlier expressed that the move of the OTP is a “waste of time and resources” as it is not yet time for the ICC to intervene in the Philippines’ domestic matters, citing a provision of the Rome Statute that the ICC can only exercise its jurisdiction when domestic courts are unable or unwilling to act on local issues.